Terrace garden in progress! So many questions

It’s finally happening! After many years of planning and deck/backyard grafting my apples (plus some pears and plums) into pots, our house build on 6 acres is in progress and the terrace behind the house is nearly complete. The hill needed a lot of grading to create a building site, and we decided to go with a terrace of 3 layers of 3-foot-tall, 8-foot-wide sections rather than a steep slope. This will mainly be vegetable gardening, but I realized this is also probably the best place to start my apples off, and maybe to keep the dwarf varieties permanently. From my research, it seems that bud9 roots should pose no risk to the structural integrity of the walls - does anyone here have personal experience with that?

This is a fairly windy site, but once the other buildings are in they should provide some protection to the terraced area (and I can put in some other windbreak trees if needed). We’re in a very drought-prone area with dry summers so this should be a good place to keep little benchgrafts and bud9 trees irrigated, while anything farther away will be on seedling and mm111 rootstock (or interstems), as is recommended by many local growers. Due to my interstem experiments, I have a lot of bud9 rootstock that I don’t have immediate use for, so this seems to be a win/win plan.

My plan is to put bud9 trees here, reasonably spaced, and up against each 3-foot high terrace wall. Can I brace trees against the terrace walls without espalier-ing them? It seems like that should provide support, maybe with some additional staking but not as much as if they were in the open. I’m not really concerned about maximizing crop here, but rather preserving the variety well in case I have trouble establishing it on the rest of my property, with the hazards of gophers, drought, deer and sheep. Also a bit concerned about the concrete blocks soaking up the sun and frying my apple trees - is that something to worry about?

I’m a bit hesitant to put anything in the ground in case I’m missing any important things I could plan for at this stage, so let me know if there’s anything you think I’m skipping over!

Some plans and pics:


Please keep posting pictures of your progress!


With B9, it is not just the wind that will cause the trees to topple over. Fruitload will do that, too. It will hurt more because you wait for a few years for the trees to set fruit. Then, the trees may lie on the ground because you don’t stake them. Even, my G 41 which is a bigger rootstock than B 9 fell over under heavy fruitload.

Dwarf rootstocks do not have strong roots. They need additional support.

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you live in one of the great stone fruit growing regions of the world, I’d be salivating at the possibilities for that. like, you’re what, 10 miles from luther burbank’s test orchard in sebastopol?

for your b9 apples I bet you could tie them with some kind of triangle brace to the wall with some simple concrete anchors

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No, B-9 (and many other rootstocks) do not pose a threat to your retaining blocks. Nor do the blocks pose a danger to your apple trees. Go for it!

(But, yes, the B-9 may have to be staked despite the blocks.)
Terracing is usually a good place to plant almost anything.

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Will do! Finally got some new pics that show how much space I’m working with. There’s a lot of room to trial a whole bunch of different techniques!


Less than 10, actually! And I grew up a few blocks from that test orchard. You’ve reminded me that I should post some pics of the fruit trees in my parents’ yard - lots of interesting very very old apple trees and tons of volunteer plums, all just a bit away from Burbank’s gardens.

The anchors seem like I good idea. I’ve been thinking of putting up some lattices for climbing plants too and I bet I could work those things in together.

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